Well, if I have to choose one or the other,
I choose to be a plain New Hampshire farmer
With an income in cash of, say, a thousand
(From, say, a publisher in New York City).
It's restful to arrive at a decision,
And restful just to think about New Hampshire.
-"New Hampshire", Robert Frost
I've been to Louisa May Alcott's Little Women house, and the house in Prince Edward Island that inspired Anne of Green Gables, and both brought to life the imagery and feelings of those beloved stories and made me feel closer to the authors. But those have also both been made into films and TV series. Visiting Robert Frost's farm house in Derry brought poems that exist in my mind alone, from a solitary reading experience, and made those poems richer and more alive than reading them alone. It's NH culture at it's best!
Where: Robert Frost Farmhouse – 122 Rockingham Rd, Derry, NH 03038
Frost and his family lived at this farmhouse in the early 1900’s. They would then move to England where, homesick for NH, he would write his collection of poems published as North of Boston. Some of the poems in this collection include “Mending Wall”, “After Apple-Picking”,”Home Burial”, and “Death of the Hired Man”. It’s easy to see why he would long for NH and this farmhouse after strolling through the field of wildflowers and touring the quaint, clapboard farmhouse. The house was lovingly restored by his daughter in immaculate detail. The wallpaper, stove, furniture, etc. are all the same style and pattern as they originally had in the home. Be sure to check out his bookshelf! (I spied Emerson and Browning in the collection.) You can even see the toilet he used…
I had an amazing 4th grade teacher, and everything she taught in that class has stayed with me. I even remember the day we sat cross-legged on the floor while she read us “Mending Wall”. I didn’t quite understand what the poem was about, although I could picture a stone wall, but the force with which she read it, and the way she had a faraway look in her eyes, made me understand there was more in that poem to her than just the words. And how wonderful a gift that she read us something that might have been over our 9-year-old heads. Even if a child can’t understand, it certainly gets the wheels in their head churning. Often, while sitting smushed on a subway car in NY with other people’s sweat dripping over me and their clammy thighs brushed against mine, I would think to myself, “Good fences make good neighbors“.
The farmhouse visit and tour is free, as are the literary series held there. On our visit we sat in rapturous attention to Dr. Donald Sheehy, a frost scholar and author, in a lecture of sorts on how his longing for NH influenced ‘North of Boston’. He also shared a startling experience at the nearby Cumberland Farms in Derry. After stopping for a cup of coffee, he asked the cashier which way he should go to get to the Frost farm. Her reply? “Frost who?” Well dear readers, now you know that Frost’s farmhouse is in Derry, and that he loved it (and NH) so fervently it inspired some of this century’s most loved and remembered words. Here’s hoping a visit to his farmhouse inspires you too!